Cynthia's Reviews > Hamlet

Hamlet by William Shakespeare
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it was amazing

Early June reflection: The more times I read Hamlet, the more intrigued I am, each time through with a different focus. Currently, I wonder if an argument could be made that Shakespeare was critiquing the tradition of his time that in the name of honour, a son must kill a man who kills his father. While Hamlet, Fortinbras and Laertes are each pushed to seek retribution for the deaths of their fathers, it is in giving mercy, compassion and understanding to one another that they achieve inner peace. I don't want to write a whole high school essay LOL, I'll leave that to the students... but as I tutor and teach the play Hamlet, I am amazed at the depth Shakespeare has achieved. I am finding undercurrents through many of Shakespeare's plays of critique of his society and that fascinates me. Granted, that is the thread that most appeals to me, and whether Shakespeare has put it there to be discovered or whether we can choose to play those elements as dramatic irony to a twenty-first century audience, either way, I am fascinated. The poetry of the language is what I most enjoy in any Shakespeare play and Hamlet's soliloquys are no exception, but I am more and more intrigued by the threads of cultural critique woven through his works. As a reader, it is the threads of critique that appeal to me; as a teacher, I want to learn as much historically accurate truth regarding Shakespeare as possible. Any thoughts? Anyone else in a similar space with regard to interpreting Shakespeare?

Late June speculation: After viewing Henry Vl, the War of the Roses, the argument that Shakespeare is critiquing the code of revenge is stronger. I think it could be suggested that Shakespeare was critical of the bloodshed and the code of honor leading to it, given that plays that uphold the theme are tragedies or histories treated with dramatic irony. At any rate, the dramatic irony can be played to a current day audience, but I suspect the seeds were planted by the playwright.

July thoughts: I am fascinated by the existentialist nature of the play Hamlet, particularly the Act 3, scene 1 soliloquy... "To be or not to be..." outlining the crisis. It is only in accepting the inevitability of death in his conversation with Horatio, that Hamlet finds peace and the return of sanity. When he accepts that death comes regardless of when and chooses to return to Elsinore to face the duel with Laertes, peace and mental health return to Hamlet's being.

Gertrude's blind happiness, which ends in her death, contrasts Hamlet's existentialist crisis of seeking the most honorable solution in a situation that offers only unpleasant choices - one more foil and level to the play.

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Reading Progress

June 30, 2011 – Shelved
January 7, 2013 – Started Reading
February 25, 2013 – Finished Reading

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